Gomberg Crowns and Bols!
Frequently Asked Questions

Do Crowns actually fly?

Crowns are not kites. They are ground bouncers. Technically, they are Bernoulli devices, but we won't go into that here. The point is that they don't generate lift. Instead they roll on the ground or just a few inches above it. In stronger winds, they will rise at about a 30% angle and then come back down to the surface.

So how to I "fly" one?

Anchor your Crown on a ground tether. The length of the tether can vary depending on how much room you have. We typically use 30 to 50 feet. Longer lines allow the Crown to fly parallel to the ground. Shorter lines have a tendency to angle the Crown more toward the ground which makes inflation more difficult.

What do I use for a tether?

You can use expensive flying line if you want, but you don't need it. Go to a hardware store and buy cheaper line by the foot. We advise a breaking strength of at least 1000 pounds. More is better.

If you are flying more than one Crown, make sure your tethers are equal in length so the Crowns bounce against each other instead of one stealing all the wind.

What's the best way to inflate the big Crowns?

Your natural tendency will be to try and inflate a Crown by holding the front open and letting the wind bow in. That it doesn't work.

Instead, go behind the Crown and gather up the fabric. Hold the back opening closed. This will fill the sail with wind and begin to build pressure. Don't let go! Instead, smoothly feed fabric out as the Crown fills. Letting go too quickly will reduce the building pressure and collapse the sail.

When the Crown is full , you can gently let go.

Learning the right "touch" for Crown inflation takes practice. The key is closing the back end to inflate and feeding the fabric out smoothly.

How should I choose a flying area?

You need to be concerned about two things -- safety to the public and damage to you Crown.

The public doesn't understand how large kites perform or that they can be dangerous. Set up your equipment in a place that minimizes contact with spectators. Remember that the piece will shift as much as 45 degrees around the anchor. It will also go up in the air and drop suddenly, so don't launch where people will be walking.

Constantly brushing the ground is eventually going to damage your Crown if you are not careful about choosing a smooth flying surface. Watch out for sticks, plants that will catch the sail or bridles, and rocks. Remember that in soft sand, the rotation of the sail will wear sand away over time. Check to make sure you don't uncover something that will damage the fabric.

How much to Crowns pull?

Our large Crowns exert tremendous energy. In average winds, one person cannot hold one. Instead you need to securely anchor your tether lines. Make sure your anchors are properly set before launching and check them regularly.

What is the proper wind range?

You can fly a Crown in as little as 4 and as much as 15 miles per hour of wind. Stronger winds generate enormous pull and we don't advise stressing your anchors, your fabric, or yourself in such conditions.

How do I collapse it in stronger winds?

If you have the room, you can drag a Crown out of the wind window and the sail will luff. Usually however, we simply gather all the bridle lines together at the swivel and then walk toward the sail. As the leading edge is drawn together, the sail will collapse.

If the wind is stronger, we will sometimes put our arm over the bridles. You can also use a large ring or carabiner, or throw a strap over the bridle and use that to close the Crown.

Are there ways to increase performance in light or gusty winds?

Large kite require constant attention in unsteady winds. That's just a fact of kiteflying life.

Jerking the line doesn't help. That will just increase wind problems when you stop pulling.

One answer is to stand behind the crown and grasp the trailing edge with both hands. Hold the fabric about two or three feet apart and pull your hands together. This has the effect of shrinking the inside diameter which allows the sail to hold wind better. Practice and experiment.

What about the bungee cord?

We have now added a series of tabs along the trailing edge of our large crowns. We provide a length of bungee that you can thread through the tabs. When winds get lighter, the elastic shrinks the training edge diameter and significantly increases light wind performance.

It is important not to pull on the bungee when launching your Crown. The surface is rough and this will quickly wear through the fabric tabs.

What if I didn't get tabs or a bunjee? What if I need a new bunjee?

Bungee tabs were added to our Crowns at the end of our first year of production. If you didn't get them, you purchased an earlier model.

Tabs or loops can easily be stitched onto the trailing edge of the Crown. Space them about every two feet. We use 1/8 inch bungee cord which is available from outdoor stores like REI and Adventure 16. The optimal length for the cord is 35 to 38 feet depending on the amount of stretch.

I've seen metal rings used on some other large bols.

Some of the European performers use metal rings on the back of their large bols. A bungee is threaded through these rings. To launch, they pull on the bungee, effectively collapsing the back end. This has a similar effect to gathering the fabric the way we recommend.

We don't use rings because (a) they are a great place to catch fingers, and (b) if one hits you as the Crown rotates, it will hurt! Safety, safety, safety...

Safety, safety, safety?

People (especially children) are attracted by large pieces. They want to get close to see and touch them.

How much you let people touch your gear is up to you. But remember that bridles and vents can easily snag little arms. So be polite to all those people that are enjoying your show, but also be cautious.

What about repairs?

If you are careful about using a "clean" flying area and are conservative about flying in stronger winds, your Crown should have a long life.

After a hard day of flying. Check your equipment. Stronger winds may have a tendency to stretch or break the stitches along the vents in the leading edge. These are easy to re-sew.

Small tears in the body sail can be fixed with ripstop repair tape.

Can an inexperienced flier handle a large piece like this?

Crowns can be touchy but they are also extremely gratifying to fly and major attention getters.

Using proper anchor, launch, and retreival procedures, almost any adult can handle one of these large pieces. You just need to practice and experiement. And of course, there are owrse things than having to practice kite flying...

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